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Philippines: Bishops declare Christmas a National Day of Prayer for Typhoon Rai victims

by Heather Preston

The Catholic Church has declared two days of national prayer in the Philippines in the wake of the country's strongest typhoon of the year.

Over 375 people are known to have died after Typhoon Rai crashed into the country's south-eastern islands on 16th December.

At least 515 people have been injured and 56 are still missing, according to the national police.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes and hospitals, schools and other buildings have been destroyed. 

Mass flooding and toppled power lines have left areas without power, clean water supplies or transport links.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has urged dioceses to dedicate 25th and 26th December to prayer for families affected by the super typhoon.

Catholic aid charity CAFOD has been part of the relief effort - head of humanitarian response, Rhea Tariq tells Premier drinking water is the most urgent need facing survivors.

"The majority of the water networks have been affected, the reservoirs have been contaminated, and people are literally queuing for drinking water.

"Food packages and hygiene kits are equally important as well as temporary shelter for those who have lost their homes."

Typhoon Rai, known locally as Typhoon Odette is the 15th storm to hit the Philippines this year.

CAFOD's sister agency is part of the local response and CAFOD has pledged £40,000 to help current aid efforts.

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